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MDE Awards Grants to School Districts to Help Students Explore Educator Careers

Program is part of efforts to address teacher shortage

LANSING – The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) has selected 25 recipients of the Future Proud Michigan Educator EXPLORE grants for districts and charter schools to assist students who are interested in careers in education.

MDE awarded EXPLORE Program grants and EXPLORE staff grants totaling $747,227.

EXPLORE Program grants are to provide opportunities for students to explore educational careers. EXPLORE staff grants pay for tuition reimbursement for graduates of the EXPLORE Program who hope to return to their home district to teach.

“The EXPLORE grants represent a crucial investment in the future of our education system and the future of our children,” said State Superintendent Michael F. Rice.

“By providing students with early exposure to teaching careers and continuing to support these aspiring educators as they transition to their preparation programs, districts are addressing teacher shortages by growing staff who are already committed to and representative of their communities.”

Increasing the numbers of certified teachers in areas of shortage is Goal 7 in Michigan’s Top 10 Strategic Education Plan.

MDE congratulates recipients of the 2024 Future Proud Michigan Educator EXPLORE grants. They are:

Bloomingdale Public Schools

Cadillac Area Public Schools

Concord Community Schools

Detroit Public Schools Community District

Galesburg-Augusta Community Schools

Grand Rapids Public Schools

Grant Public School District

Hartland Consolidated Schools

Hazel Park Schools

Holland Public Schools

Holt Public Schools

Huron Valley Schools

Ida Public Schools

Kentwood Public Schools

Lincoln Consolidated Schools

Midland Public Schools

Mount Pleasant Public Schools

Muskegon Public Schools

Oakland International Academy

Parchment School District

Rockford Public Schools

Romulus Community Schools

Tecumseh Public Schools

Van Buren Public Schools

Waldron Area Schools

“I am excited that this grant will allow us to do more to prepare our current scholars to be our future teachers,” said Dr. Leadriane Roby, Grand Rapids superintendent. “These grant dollars will provide our students with the opportunity and support they need to return to their home school district as educators.”

Mount Pleasant Superintendent Ms. Jennifer Verleger said: “This grant allows us to expand our collaboration with the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe and Central Michigan University by reaching out to and supporting indigenous students who are interested in becoming teachers.”

Districts that are awarded an EXPLORE Program grant receive $10,000 per school building to develop and maintain programming for students in grades 6-12 who are interested in teaching careers. MDE will partner with awarded districts by consulting on program design and implementation and by providing free curricular resources and professional learning for EXPLORE instructors. Student opportunities may include visiting Michigan’s educator preparation programs, tutoring younger students during summer learning, partnering with a mentor teacher, and celebrating college decisions at a Future Educator Signing Day.

Districts awarded EXPLORE Staff grants may use funds to support district-employed graduates transitioning from high school to post-secondary educator preparation pathways. Districts will receive reimbursement of up to $10,000 in tuition costs per graduate who is currently undertaking pre-program coursework but has not yet enrolled in a teacher preparation program.

Teacher preparation enrollment in Michigan has rebounded from a 59% decrease between 2011-12 and 2016-17 to a 56% increase from 2016-17 to 2021-22.

In the last two years, the legislature has approved, and the governor has signed into law, budgets that include $575 million and $448 million in FY23 and FY24, respectively, for efforts to address teacher recruitment and retention. These efforts include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Grow Your Own Staff Grants, which create support staff-to-teacher programs where teaching candidates work while completing preparation programs.
  • MI Future Educator Fellowships, which offer $10,000 scholarships to up to 2,500 future educators every year.
  • MI Future Educator stipends, which offer $9,600 to support student teachers.
  • Talent Together, which helps school employees earn certification through partnerships with intermediate school districts and educator preparation institutions.
  • The Rural Educator Credentialing Hub to assist rural educators in becoming certified through a consortium of educator preparation institutions and rural school districts led by Central Michigan University.
  • Mentoring and other support to new teachers and others new to their positions in education.
  • Student loan repayments to help educators pay off their loans.

Educators who are interested in learning more about EXPLORE programs, including accessing the free curriculum and professional learning, may visit the EXPLORE website, email, or view the recent Proud Michigan Educator video, which highlights various EXPLORE programs across the state.

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